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Oregon Trophy Challenge 2017


NAXJA Forum User
NAXJA Member
Oregon Trophy Challenge 2017
Tillamook State Forest, Oregon
June 2-4, 2017

Team NAXJA was back at it again this year. When the dates were announced, the team started talking. Our five year veteran team member, Scott, opted to take up a volunteer role this year running a NAXJA checkpoint instead. Nick and I would continue as drivers, with Dan coming back for a second year as my co-driver, and Josh returning to the team to co-drive for Nick. We felt like we had a strong team coming in this year that worked well together, and everyone brought different skills to the table.

The week leading up to OTC was stressful. Nick was literally down to hours before the event trying to get his Jeep done. He was fresh off a axle swap, new three link, and Atlas 4 Speed install. 1PM Friday, Dan and Nick were trying to get the brakes to work. As I packed my Jeep I wondered if we were going to be able to pull this off.

Cruising through Portland in the jalopy.

I rolled into camp, said some hello's, and started to make camp. Josh and Dan rolled in shortly after. Dan informed us that Nick had experienced some electrical issues, and was going to try to head out with Scott later in the evening. While it was a bit discerning to hear, we all figured it would be find as long as he was in camp by 2100 for tech/registration.

2100 rolls around, and still no Nick. The event organizers strolled into our camp, and informed us they were giving us a 30 minute window to register, with a time penalty. There were also two other teams waiting on team members. We'll take it! We then sat there counting down the minutes to 2130 wondering if Team NAXJA would be in this year.

2128, we see Nick's headlights roll into Diamond Mill. We take the rigs over to get tech'd in, assigned Team 9, and instructions for this evenings task. A quick rally up to Truck Dent, and we drew a Saturday morning start time of 0820.

Saturday morning we walked over for the driver's meeting, and then began to prep for the unknown of what the day would bring us. Dan of course had to do some camp fire grate repairs beforehand.

We loaded in the Jeeps, and then lined up for the start. 0820, we were heading out of Diamond Mill with Josh and Dan relaying directions to us.

We quickly settled into the groove, and were stoked to just be participating in OTC for another year. At mile 5.9 the directions called for a hair pin right turn. Up to this point our mileage was spot on with the directions. However, this turn came before the 5.9 mark. No big deal it was still early, we talked it over, and let my floor board cool off while Dan shoveled dirt onto my floor to protect his feet.

Keeping mileage in mind we explored around a bit, and discovered another hairpin right just around the corner from the last, meaning the 5.9 miles had to be this second turn. We were relieved to be back out running. After getting some very violent airtime off a surprise water bar, we found ourselves at Waterfall, CP1, first team there. The crew was surprised Team 9 was first to arrive, but that's how we roll (or so we thought). The challenge was a time based event for one vehicle on the actual obstacle. Dan and I did the challenge in my rig, while Nick and Josh spotted and helped pull line when needed. Overall we felt we did well, getting all four punches.

After we were done we picked up where we left off on the course packet, and that's when we looked at one another confused as hell. The mileage was now off, the turns didn't match up, what were they trying to do to us! As a team we bounced ideas off each other trying to work through the confusion. #28 and again, and again. We knew we had to be on Archers, but it just wasn't adding up. None-the-less we pushed on hoping we'd recognize a turn and be able to verify mileage. It never happened. We pushed on through all of Archers up to the top of Rocky Uphill. There we watched as two teams passed clearly more confident in the directions than us. We could easily have followed, however knowing OTC we could have had a different route. We all knew the only option for continuing would be going back to the 5.9 mile marker, and seeing where we went wrong.

We rallied the roads all the way back to the hair pin turn. We got out, talked about it, and then the light bulb hit. We figured out the hair pin right was in fact the first one, and shortly after that the course packet started matching back up. Huge weight off the shoulders, Team 9 was back in, and we all caught our second wind! We took a huge step back in the field by rerunning the first portion, but we wanted to be certain not to miss anything. After all, one thing we've learned over the years, as much as we all want it to be a race, it's all about the points in the end. ;)

We continued to plug along through the course. Waved to CP1 as we drove by for a second time. Rallied all of Archers for a second time. Found a sweet match box jet plane, and then arrived at CP2 the NAXJA checkpoint of Scott and Ryan. I gotta hand it to those guys as they put on a pretty fun checkpoint that made the team work together, and test our rig's capabilities. Looking back there's a few things we'd do different, but all-in-all we felt like we had a pretty clean run.

Back on course we continued. Had to confirm a few turns with the team, but we worked it out, and were crossing off turns one by one. Hit CP3 at Lyda where Nick received a compound fracture, and Josh had to build a signal fire. No big deal, we took care of it.

Hit the road in search of CP4. The course took us up and over Bates Road. The only carnage so far was Dan's water bottle. It became the victim to my floor, and donated some material. After Bates Road we hit CP4, where Nick had to swap on a spare, while Dan and I went for a hike. Again, looking back I'm not sure how we could have improved. We flat hustled. :cool:

After CP4 we dropped down, and hit the highway. That's when we made a team decision to go get fuel. This marked the end of the first route, and next we'd be heading into the Trask. Forty minutes round trip to the gas station was something we were willing to gamble on to have the peace of mind of having full tanks going into the second half. We topped off, and then swung into Lee's Camp store for a coke.

Dan hoping to wine and dine the Team 9 flamingo.

We rolled into Diamond Mill, and received the packet for the second route. We hit highway six setting off for the Trask at 1600, knowing the deadline to get back without penalty was 2200, leaving us six hours to make it happen.

Up Rogers Road we went, finding CP1 at the top. Getting fuel put us behind some other teams, which meant down time waiting for our turn. Time to hydrate!

Scenery never got old.

CP1 involved some blind driving, which was a very odd feeling. Dan did a great job coaching me, "little driver, straighten out, four wheel drive, front locker, reverse, hard passenger..." Here's a pic of Nick making his way through the course.

After getting our score we throttled down, and continued on with the course. Deeper and deeper into the Trask we went, all while watching the clock and miles roll by.

We rolled up on a few teams, and quickly took any opportunity to try and pass. As the evening went on, it was becoming more apparent we needed to pick up the pace. We hit CP2, replaced a valve stem, and tried to bribe our way to a good score with cookies. Continued on into the jungle. The trails are heavily over grown out there, but our pace couldn't suffer because of it. We were smashing our way through the brush, and as a result I now have two broken mirrors. They were sacrificed for the team.

After a pretty good climb up the ridge, we hit CP3. We played a little game of t-ball with the Jeeps. Again, I'm not sure how we could have done anything different. We had an awesome plan of attack, and executed it well. With the sun starting to set, we hammered down and continued on.

Eventually I found myself starting up a trail that looked very familiar to "the winch hill" from our very first year at OTC. I shifted into four low, engaged the lockers, rail shifter in 1rst, and went for it. About 2/3 of the way up I crested a root with the front end, and heard something let go from the passenger side. "I just blew a hub or shaft." At that point we heard engines approaching, as Team Bones arrived at the hill. We backed down off the hill to let them pass and start with repairs.

Turns out it was just a hub. I had spares, so we quickly disassembled the hub, fished out the 87 broken pieces, and reassembled with a new one. Down time was minimal, and it actually probably helped keep the team in check with reality. We set off back up "the winch hill" for a second time, and crested the top with no issues. It's a steep one for sure.

It was now nearing 2045, and we started to talk just how far we wanted to push it until looking for a bug out route. We settled on 30 more minutes as we were down to the last page or two of the packet. Low range was never used again. We kicked up the pace, and settled into a groove. I remember looking down at my speedo on the trails and seeing 20, 22, 25 mph. When a hill appeared, just pin it to win it. The final half hour push was probably the most fun moment of the entire day for me. We were so focused on the end goal, that all other things were blocked it during that time. We completed Ginsberg trail, and started to drop in elevation. Once on the gravel road, we set off to make up more ground. The team was in good spirits, thinking we might actually pull this off and finish the course in time. Now under darkness, with the light bars leading the way, Nick and Josh suddenly made a u-turn in the road. Josh had been plotting a course back to Diamond Mill, and discovered if we ran the last "trail" we wouldn't make it back in time. CP's closed at 2130, if there was in fact another CP on the route, we wouldn't have hit it in time anyways. So we made our way back up and over the ridge pushing the Jeep's to their limit to try and make it back.

As we made our way up the switchbacks, smoke began to fill my cab. Dan had his head out the window saving himself. Something was melting on my floor in a very bad way. I reached back for a gallon of water, and told Dan to make it go away as there wasn't any stopping. It worked. :dunno:

We hit the highway, signaled right, and pinned it for Diamond Mill. It took so much self control not to lay on the siren and pass traffic. We turned into Diamond Mill, and handed Dan our score card at 2158, two minutes to spare.

Team 9 got it done. Fourteen hours prior we started the day off strong second out of the gate. We had some setbacks, but overcame them. The teamwork this year was amazing from everyone.

Sunday morning we wandered over to the event site to here the scores. Honestly, we weren't sure where we placed as we were running near the back of the pack all day. I tried to prepare myself for a lower half placement.

Heading into the finals would be Team Piston's Wild, Team NAXJA, Team Bronco, and Team Bones.

We somehow pulled it off the day before, and had a chance at making the podium. We headed back to camp to repack the Jeeps, oatmeal/coffee, and gear up for the final shootout.

At 0800 the four teams lined up for a little scavenger hunt for items we may carry in the Jeeps. Nick and I strive to keep our rigs organized, and accessible so we performed pretty well in this task (15A fuse, 10MM socket, jumper cables!). Points were added up and we were told we'd be the second team to run in the finals.

Teams convoyed out to a remote location where the shootout would take place. Piston's Wild were first to run, and while we didn't know what each task entailed, all we could do was bounce theories and ideas off one another as we sat seat belted inside the Jeeps.

Team NAXJA was up. Five tasks needed completed. Small winching task with both vehicles, teeter totter and winch troubleshooting, stretcher transport, log task, and some tire changes. We had two minutes to discuss a plan of attack, and we were off.

Winch task: Snatched off an anchor to pull each others' rigs past the finish line.
Teeter Totter/Winch: Nick and Josh tackled this, Nick's 10.3:1 came in handy trying to balance his rig, and then the two of them put their heads together to troubleshoot a non working winch scenario.
Log Task: While Nick and Josh worked on their task, Dan and I yarded a log up the quarry side with my Jeep, lowered it safely off the side, and then recovered it back to the LZ.
Stretcher: Josh was transported on a stretcher through an off camber cone course. We had a good pace, and no butt cracks shown.
Tire Change: This involved removing opposing tires off each rig without using a jack. Our go to method was winching each rig off the sides to let them hang a tire. I'm honestly impressed we were able to change six tires and the above three tasks in under a half hour, with four minutes to spare!

Pic stolen from FB.

We did what we could, but definitely felt good about our run. It was torture watching the other two teams run. Seeing how they adapted, and what we could have done different. In the end all four teams completed the same tasks, and it would be up to the judges to decided how we all placed.

Back at Diamond Mill, we settled in for an awesome BBQ lunch and raffle. Big thanks to those who helped put those one! Then just like a reality show, it was time to announce a winner.

4th place: Team Bones
3rd place: Team Piston's Wild
2nd place: Team Bronco

1rst Place and Three Time OTC Champions: Team NAXJA

The team was pretty stoked to bring back the trophy. This year it felt like we were even more competitive than years past, and it's rewarding to see that hard work pay off. It's even more rewarding to see our team of jalopy-station-wagon-grocery-getters beat out the competition. :D

Back at camp, we loaded up the Jeeps with our camping gear, big ass trophy, aired up our tires, and set off to drive our Jeeps back home after winning the Oregon Trophy Challenge. :cool:

We'll be back next year to defend the title!

Team69 :cheers: